On Wednesday 6th of April, the MEP Water Group, in cooperation with the Dutch EU Presidency held a public session dedicated to the theme ‘Water in the Urban Agenda’, with a link to ‘Τhe Leeuwarden Declaration’ at the European Parliament in Brussels.
The session was chaired by Esther de Lange, in her capacity as the President of the MEP Water Group and featured Aziza Akhmouch, Head of the OECD Water Governance Programme, Mario Cerutti, Senior Water Expert, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment, Richard Elelman, Coordinator of the BlueSCities Project and Pavel Misiga, Head of the Water Unit, European Commission as speakers of the session.
Esther de Lange introduced the topic, pointing out that although 70 % of the Europeans live in urban areas, the visibility of water has been massively declined in cities and thus water-related challenges are growing.
Among other considerations put forward by the speakers were that water is key to sustainable cities and that there should be simultaneous action that links infrastructures, institutions, and information together.
One of the tasks included in the urban agenda is to influence the EU research agenda by linking urban cities and water. The DG Environment of the European Commission has expressed its commitment to support this initiative and connect water directors and regional levels of implementation. In addition to that, it was highlighted that action needs to be taken so that the urban water-related issues are included in the upcoming Horizon 2020 Work Programme.
Speakers identified as an important challenge the difficulty in linking the EU and local level implementation of policies as well as integrated water management in urban areas. Several interlinked components are quite often disconnected from each other, such as water management, landscape planning, energy, waste, etc.
Esther de Lange stated that ‘Although there are a lot of actions launched, it is difficult to link the EU level with the local level and this is a challenge we need to address together!’
Dinner event with European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella
On Wednesday 18th of November, European Commissioner Karmenu VELLA for Environment, Maritime affairs, and Fisheries met with members of the European Parliament and key representatives from the European water sector to debate the role of water in the circular economy, sustainable development goals, and the mainstreaming of water in other policies such as regional policy, agricultural policy, and research and innovation policy. The meeting was hosted by MEP Esther DE LANGE in her capacity as chair of the MEP Water Group, for which WssTP is the management body. Bruno Tisserand, EurEau president was there to deliver a speech on behalf of the European water sector.
Commissioner VELLA expressed his firm support for the MEP Water Group as a forum that continuously ensures that key water issues are highlighted in the European decision-making process. Commissioner Vella emphasized the quintessential importance of closing the water loop in the circular economy. Special attention was given to the reuse and recycling of water in industrial processes and reuse of municipal waste water, as areas with greatest potential in relation to the circular economy.
In particular, Commissioner Vella added that ‘European companies are already among the global leaders in the field of reusing municipal wastewater. Our expertise in this field can become a globally recognised source for sound investments, quality jobs, and economic growth.’
Commissioner Vella pointed out that we need to address and tackle the barriers to water reuse, so that reuse becomes an obvious solution for water managers, farmers and utilities across Europe.He also clearly indicated his intention to work closely with the EIP on Water to ensure that investment in water resources plays an important role in H2020 across all relevant societal challenges. According to Commissioner Vella, water will have a central role to play in the process of transition to an efficient and sustainable economy.Read More
On Friday September 18th, KWR Watercycle Research Institute held the opening ceremony of its new offices in Nieuwegein. The event was attended by many officials, such as the Minister of Infrastructure and Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen who formally opened the new residence of KWR. The Minister noted that the opening of KWR’s new complex is indicative of the important growth in the water sector and “physically represents a desire to be more efficient, sustainable and innovative. “
The MEP Water Group chairwoman, Esther de Lange, was among the official speakers of the ceremony. The chairwoman highlighted that the Netherlands is not only a European champion in water management but also a global player in knowledge and expertise in the water sector.
She added that water still suffers too much from sectarianism on a policy level. ‘’For many years, water was seen merely as environmental issue (with eg. The Water Framework Directive) that had to be discussed within the Environment Committee. However, water is about everything: raw materials scarcity, geopolitics, energy production, urban planning, the Digital Agenda, etc.’’ Esther de Lange underlined that circular economy is an opportunity but there is the risk everyone applies circular economy on their own terms, with no one leading the way.
The chairwoman also made a reference to the MEP Water Group and its activities. The MEP Water Group met with the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation who assigned the water sector to come up with concrete suggestions for innovation. Lastly, Esther de Lange stated that as the world population is growing, Europe needs to be smart .
As a long-standing member of WssTP, KWR is known for its outstanding research in the water sector and its invaluable contributions to society. KWR’s new and flexible complex contributes to the research institute’s ambitions by meeting the latest sustainability and environmental-integration standards. A building dedicated to collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation.
To learn more about KWR activities, please visit KWR’s website.Read More
In October 2015, an invitation-only dinner between with Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the key representatives of the water sector will be organised at the European Parliament.
Later in the year, another high-level public event will be also hosted by the MEP Water Group. We will be publishing more details along the way! Stay tuned!Read More
The European Commissioner Carlos MOEDAS for Research, Science and Innovation met with Members of the European Parliament and key representatives of the European water sector to debate water-related research and innovation challenges and opportunities in the current legislative term. The meeting took place on 20th of April 2015 and it was hosted by MEP Esther DE LANGE in her capacity as chair of the MEP Water Group, for which WssTP is the management body.
Commissioner MOEDAS expressed its firm support to the MEP Water Group as an important forum for all those interested in water to discuss the systemic solutions needed to address the challenges of the water sector.
He highlighted that he considers water, energy, food and health as the 4 sectors that are key to our future. Water stands out in particular because it is a multidisciplinary sector connected to a wide diversity of policy areas and people. As such the water sector is well placed to get the best results in terms of research and science.
Commissioner MOEDAS sees the future of water on the intersection of the physical and digital world with cities of the future connecting services, infrastructures and people; and in a circular economy requiring more efficient use of water in industry, the recovery of resources and energy, and lower levels of water pollution.
Europe needs to capitalize on these opportunities. For this purpose the Commissioner Moedas will work closely with amongst others WssTP, the EIP Water, and the JPI Water. The Commissioner also invited the water sector to exploit the new European Fund for Strategic Investment to the greatest extent.
To download the full text of Commissioner’s Moedas speech, please click here.Read More